Toyota Launches Google-Powered Voice Assistant and Interactive Car Manual Named Joya
Toyota has unveiled a new voice assistant and interactive owner’s manual exclusively for the 2021 model Sienna. The Toyota Driver’s Companion AI is named Joya and is designed to answer any questions a driver has about their vehicle using natural language to help guide owners more than the traditional thick booklet forgotten in the car door or glove compartment for years.
Joya’s AI relies on Google Cloud and DialogFlow to process questions from drivers and provide answers on the new Sienna’s many extra features via the driver’s smartphone. For instance, asking about how the bird’s eye camera or digital rear-view mirror work will pull up images on the smartphone while the voice assistant explains things vocally. The interactions can also be personalized for the owner’s specific car once they submit their VIN. That’s helpful for getting reminders about car maintenance or suggestions on why the check engine light came on. Joya even comes with a verbal quiz about the Sienna and its functions for those who enjoy learning about cars. The AI in Toyota’s app can help identify buttons and features visually, too, as seen in the video above.
“Toyota Driver’s Companion highlights how cloud computing can support interactive, engaging consumer experiences in a natural, accessible format—voice,” Google Cloud managing director of global automotive Dominik Wee said in a statement. “By elevating and personalizing the car manual through the power of cloud, our goal is to help foster more thoughtful interactions between Toyota and Sienna drivers, such as responding to real-time inquiries.”
Toyota’s collaboration with Google on Joya is notable considering the car company was the first to experiment with that Cerence Cloud Services when it debuted earlier this year, though that trial has been limited to Japan. Cerence’s cloud service centers are aimed at speeding up voice assistants and improving efficiency. The arrangement extended Toyota’s partnership with Cerence, which began in 2014, well before Cerence spun out of Nuance. Cerence’s cloud support is mostly behind the scenes; however, unlike Joya’s interactions, so one doesn’t necessarily make the other redundant. The cloud services are part of Cerence’s major upgrades this year following the release of Cerence Drive 2.0 in January, with new features like Cerence Look and arriving on the Android Automotive platform, among other rollouts. The partnership with Google doesn’t seem to indicate a change to Google’s many car-focused AI services, like the integrated Android Automotive platform soon to be used by Groupe PSA and Ford. For now, Joya is just a pilot program in one model of Toyota’s vehicles but presumably could become more prevalent if drivers find interacting with the voice assistant lives up to its name and is enjoyable.